What went wrong?
Often I hear people saying they have tried lean before and it didn’t work, so why try it again. The simple answer is, if all of the circumstances are the same as last time then you probably shouldn’t bother.
Why is this? To answer this let’s take a look at some common reasons for a lean program not bringing the desired results.
1. Lack of leadership support
2. Lack of understanding within the leadership group
3. Unclear organisational goals
4. Goals contrasting to lean manufacturing outcomes
When any of these factors are present it will be very difficult to implement a sustainable lean business system.
The most common reason for a lean program to fail in my experience is due to misaligned business goals; particularly expected outcomes from the program. Too often the outcomes desired from a lean program are a reduction in costs. i.e. cost cutting.
When a cost cutting project is portrayed as a lean program the results will not be “lean” at all. This is because cost cutting is a very short term view for any organisation, whereas a lean business system is a long term sustainable business plan.
The irony is that in every instance, a well developed and implemented lean business system will provide a reduction in costs and an increase in profits. By focussing on the outcomes for the customer; eliminating waste, built in quality, safety and respecting employees; the cost reductions will become almost automatic.